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Maeterlinck's Blue Bird (Office Academy, 1980)

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The Queen of the Night
Source: TV
Layers: 1
No sketches available
Cel Number: B1
Standard size

Key Cel
No Background

Added 9/12/2011
Updated 12/4/2016
A moody portrait of the evil antagonist of the series, who battles the Aoitori-tachi for possession of the mythical Blue Bird. Sequence number: B1

In Maeterlinck’s play, The Night appears as a rather timorous curator of ineffectual boogies. So it is one of the strongest parts of the anime remake that she is reshaped into a major series villain, and that the story arc now guides the children and their helpers into a climactic confrontation with her in a skull-shaped castle. Tyltyl in fact gets to fight a duel with her, his Light Dagger against the Queen’s lithe and dangerous sword. (One immediately thinks of how CCS builds to a climax in which Sakura has to transform and use her most powerful Card, The Light, to break the magical Night created by her antagonist Eriol.)

It’s worth looking closely at the character design in this cel, the only one I’ve ever seen of this central figure. The gray hair and black clothing are appropriate for a nocturnal baddie, as is the icy blue skin. But notice how blocky the Queen’s shoulders are: she could easily be a Mafia boss rather than a supernatural bogeywoman. And see how the swirls of hair frame her face and seem to give her prominent cheekbones. The eyelashes are properly feminine, but otherwise the character could easily be mistaken for a male villain rather than an evil queen.

Perhaps this is deliberate, as the role in fact was voiced by a male seiyuu, the flamboyant Japanese drag queen Akihiro Miwa. The same artist worked widely in anime, mainly playing evil and/or inhuman female roles. Notably, Miwa provided the original Japanese voicing for the wolf goddess Moro in Princess Mononoke and The Witch of the Waste in Howl’s Moving Castle.

Cels from this 26-episode series seem quite scarce, and the condition of this one when it arrived suggests one reason. The front of it was plastered with sheets of thick black cel paint, which had presumably peeled off a sequence-mate that was stored directly on top. As the B1 in this cut, this cel must have been on the bottom of the stack, and so it suffered less (though I had to remove a sheet of yellow paper from its backside). But the rest of the images stored in this stack must have been irrecoverably damaged.

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